QUESTION TEXT: Evidently, watching too much television can lead …
QUESTION TYPE: Weaken
CONCLUSION: TV makes people overestimate risk.
REASONING: There is a correlation between how much TV someone watches and how likely they think they are to suffer from a natural disaster.
ANALYSIS: Repeat after me: correlation does not equal causation. Correlation does not equal causation. Correlation does not equal causation.
Anytime two things happen together, that’s just a correlation. In this stimulus, we have two things happening together: TV watching, and fear of natural disaster. Here are the four possibilities:
- TV causes fear
- Fear causes more TV watching
- A third factor (e.g. living in a certain area) causes both fear of disaster and TV watching.
- It’s just a coincidence
You can weaken an attempt to draw causation from correlation by showing that one of the alternate possibilities is true. In this situation, it’s also possible that TV watchers are the ones with a correct view of the risk of natural disaster, and therefore TV isn’t misleading.
- So? This doesn’t show that TV doesn’t cause fear.
- This heightens the tension. The people who watch the most TV have the greatest fear of natural disasters AND live in the regions with the fewest disasters.
- Tempting, but this is talking about the wrong group. If this answer had said that people who watch more TV have an accurate view, then that would weaken the idea that TV misleads.
- This shows that Television isn’t responsible for educating people about natural disasters. So this answer doesn’t weaken the idea that TV is a bad influence.
- CORRECT. This is number three from my list above. A third factor (risky location) leads people to watch lots of television, and to have an above average estimation of natural disaster risk.
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